And you thought your office job was hard. Imagine coming in every day and trying to keep a business running…when your clients are superheroes - the kind of tend to destroy things at the drop of a hat. And now you have to deal with super-villains…
That’s the job faced daily by the employees of Super Crises International in Super Human Resources, the fast-paced super-comedy that returns to Action Lab this June after a previous stint at Ape Entertainment. Newsarama spoke to writer/creator Ken Marcus about his and Armando Zanker's second volume, what readers can expect, and even his own day job…which is actually pretty cool.
Newsarama: Ken, for those who did not experience the first miniseries, tell us what this is about and what happens.
Ken Marcus: In our first volume of Super Human Resources, we meet Tim, who joins the Human Resources department of the world’s greatest super team as a temp.
In short order, Tim manages to help thwart a forced bankruptcy and an office machine robot uprising – all while avoiding being shanghaied into forced servitude as a sidekick to a dark, shadowy avenger of the night…lawsuit pending.
Nrama: And what is new in this second miniseries, and how accessible is it to those who are new in the reading of it?
Marcus: If you’ve ever read a comic book and if you’ve ever had a terrible job, then don’t worry. You’re already up to speed.
We pick right up with just another day on the job, alongside the world’s most dysfunctional co-workers – super heroes. Tim soon gets kidnapped by a group of super-villains who have infiltrated Super Crises International. The rest of heroes would certainly rescue Tim…if they weren’t too busy getting kidnapped by somebody completely different.
Nrama: How does the universe expand in this new miniseries?
Marcus: We spent a lot of time with our oddly familiar “heroes” of Super Crises International in Volume I. In our new Volume, we explore the other side of the comic book coin – the supervillains. They’re even more fun. Tim is forced to work in Accounts Payable and Payroll for our interstellar conqueror, Devastator.
Worst of all, he was work in Windows 10. On a Gateway.
Nrama: That poor man. And what are some of the unique challenges in doing a comedy book?
Marcus: As you know, so much has already been done in this space. Cue: “The Simpsons did it.” Shows like The Venture Bros, The Tick, and Robot Chicken have played around in this “everyday superhero” space. There’s a new DC show on NBC coming out soon with a similar concept.
So the challenge is to find different ways in – to find a different point of view or voice on well-tread ground. Also, shows have the advantage of having voice actors. We just have the written word. So all of our jokes have to be sharp.
But luckily, my artist Armando Zanker is my secret weapon. He’s great with facial expressions and character “acting.” Our characters just jump off the page. Super Human Resources just feels like an animated show, always in motion.
Nrama: And what's your collaboration with Armando like?
Marcus: We’ve actually never met or spoken. All communication is online. But he’s great – really intuitive visually for humor and adds a lot to the process. I found myself constantly adding dialogue bits after I saw his pages. He always creates new opportunities for fun in his panels.
Nrama: How did you come to work with Action Lab on this, and what's the experience been like so far?
Marcus: Our first volume was originally published through Ape Entertainment about seven years ago. Those guys went their separate ways. And my editor Kevin Freeman went over to Action Lab as President. He was always a big cheerleader for our little book.
So I’m thrilled we found a new home with Action Lab. They’ve been carving out a fun niche in indie comics for the last five years. Very different than anything Image, Boom, IDW or Dark Horse are doing. With books like Princeless, Molly Danger, Actionverse, Hero Cats, Awake, Cyrus Perkins And The Haunted Taxi Cab among others.
Nrama: Give us an idea of what we can expect as this new mini goes on.
Marcus: Well, we go a lot more “cosmic” for a lack of a better word. We explore what banality of office corporate life looks like in outer rim of the Milky Way. And in the hellish, underworld headquarters of The Evil Alliance.
Nrama: And dear lord, mother of all things holy, where did that bit with Zombor's..."modeling"...come from?
Marcus: These days, companies have to diversify revenue streams when it comes to their core properties, Zack. Somebody had the idea to get into licensing calendars. “The Hunks of Super Crises International 2016.” No one said this was a particularly good idea.
Nrama: What's fun about working on this book?
Marcus: Even though we have a lot of super heroes and villains running around. They’re not really what the book is about. They’re just props. The stage dressings. Super Human Resources is really about what it’s like to be a human being set against this absurd backdrop of comic books. I like to think that our main character Tim’s super power is just being a decent human being. It opens up a lot of opportunities we haven’t seen in comics before.
Nrama: And you have a pretty interesting day job I'm sure our readers would want to know more about...
Marcus: I’m a writer at an advertising agency. I write a lot of those GEICO commercials that are incessantly on. I work primarily on all of the “It’s What You Do” spots. The Final Countdown, Kraken on a Golf Course, Salt N’ Pepa’s “Push It,” Peter Pan and so on. Probably the biggest spot I’ve worked on is Hump Day with the camel. I believe you can still find Hump Day t-shirts in boardwalk 50%-off bins.
Nrama: [Laughs] So getting back to the book, what's the big picture?
Marcus: Well, if you’ve gotten tired of how serious comics have gotten. How seriously the business takes itself. Then Super Human Resources just might be for you. The book really is just a ton of fun to work on. I know we appear to be a parody.
And yes, we do poke fun at a lot of super hero conventions. But I really do love super heroes. I like to think we celebrate comics – showing how fun super heroes really are by throwing them into our everyday, boring world.
Nrama: What are some other comics/creators you're currently enjoying?
Marcus: I find myself mostly buying less monthlies and more creator owned trades. I basically buy anything Jason Aaron, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Rick Remender, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and BKV work on. I’ve also recently enjoyed Descender from Image, We Can Never Go Home from Black Mask, The Auteur from Oni and Arcadia from BOOM!. Even though I write fun, light stuff, I like my comics dark and twisted.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Well, it just so happens our comic is launching the same month as Civil War II and DC Rebirth. (Sigh.) So if you want to see something different, you really have to tell your comic book store. Please tell your retailer to order Super Human Resources from Action Lab.